I love to plan a good party. Whether it be a Christmas party at my apartment with a over 20 types of homemade appetizers (I have problems…) or my classroom holiday shin-digs; I LOVE it. Although I have to admit my parties at home far out weigh my school festivities mostly do the highly quality drink options – I’d take some spiked cider any day over lime green spooky punch. But, my school parties have definitely upped their game over the past few years.
My first few years teaching, I would not have not such amazing things to say regarding holiday events at school. I loathed Halloween, the Christmas party gave my nightmares, and Valentine’s Day made me want to call in sick. Every event was MASS CHAOS. The kids were always bouncing off the wall, any cute idea I had was a complete epic fail, and behavior problems spread faster than the chicken pox. It finally dawned on me – everyday my students have a scheduled and structured day. That works for them. I know that. So why wasn’t I incorporating any of that logic into our holiday parties? Why did I suddenly think a free-for-all method would work? Duh!? We started making our holiday parties much more structured and I have been looking forward to holidays ever since.
How this works:
I do my Halloween parties with another teacher so we have more kids to work with but also more adults. We usually try to get the speech pathologist or OT in on this as well. If you don’t have another teacher to work with – this would still work! Read on!
Each adult has a different station and runs a different activity. I group students in small groups (usually 2-4 kids depending on how many adults we have). I make sure the groups are manageable; not 3 super challenging kids in one group. Students spend 10 minutes at each station and complete the activity and then switch. Students rotate through the stations until they have completed each activity. It’s not a switch when you want system. Everyone switches at the same time so everyone stays with the same group. Much better.
I make a schedule for the adults. This is SO KEY! Make you have all adults on the same page. Here is a sample:
If you have less adults you can still do this – you can have the students rotate 2 times through the stations and each adult can be in charge of two different activities. For example, if you have only 3 adults total your schedule could look like this:
I usually also write the schedule and groups on the board for a quick reference. My kids are pretty used this process because we have done our parties like this for a while, so I don’t make schedules for them. I usually let them look at my adult schedule and that is enough. However, if you are first starting this making a schedule for each kid could be a good idea. We have had some students get upset the first few times we did this because they did not initially understand they would eventually do all the stations. I had some pretty pissed kiddos that they were doing a craft while other kids were eating cookies, typical.
Don’t make this harder on yourself than you need to. For your students that read/write, just write out the schedule on a piece of paper. For your students that need visuals, use your schedule pictures. If the craft is at morning meeting, treat is at the reading center, and game is at work station – use those same pictures. Or I have even just used some markers and drawn some quick pictures of each activity in order. Bottom line: don’t make the schedule thing a lot of work. It’s just for one day.
Activities we do at the stations:
I like to do a good mixture of crafts, games, seasonal worksheets, and snacks.
Check back in tomorrow to see what we are planning for this year’s Halloween party!